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PR Intelligence
February 14, 2001
Use Animation to Get Your Message Out
So, you want to hire a spokesperson, but you don’t want to deal with some of the pitfalls that come with a person’s reputation or actions? Consider a persona that you can more closely control: a cartoon.
Betty Lovell, APR, president of Lovell Public Relations, suggested hiring a cartoon as a “spokesperson” for a health network in 1988. Her client, a non-profit consortium of nine medical centers called Dallas Medical Resource, went into an agreement with the popular cartoon character, Cathy, and of course, the woman who draws her, Cathy Guisewite.
“Shopping is good for your health,” was the tagline on many of the ads meant to underscore the message to shop around for your doctor and your healthcare provider.
Guisewite often jokes about Cathy’s love for shopping in the comic strip. Also, Cathy hit at the consortium’s target market—women, who make 80 percent of the healthcare decisions in a household, Lovell says.
Before coming up with Cathy, Lovell considered asking a fitness expert to be the spokesperson. But not only did Cathy the cartoon fit the campaign’s message, she fit their budget better as well.
“The licensing agreement was by far less expensive,” Lovell says. “It was probably a third of the cost of a typical spokesperson.” Guisewite also discounted her fees based on what the consortium could afford.
Not having much of a budget for the national campaign, Lovell asked Guisewite to come up with five basic images—some were general but others were specific to certain topics such as cardiovascular or muscular health. This provided some choices of artwork that could be used for a variety of ads. It also meant that Lovell would not have to go back to the cartoonist all the time for new art, which reduced costs.
Before Guisewite agreed to do the project, Lovell struggled for five months to even get a meeting with the cartoonist. But her persistence paid off.
“Don’t give up, but don’t be obnoxious either,” Lovell advises. “Spokespersons can quickly discount you unless you take the right approach.”
Explain your campaign in detail—and exactly what their role will be to secure their help, Lovell says.
The campaign won an American Healthcare Marketing Group award, Lovell says.
Although the consortium disbanded in 1994, the association with Cathy continues. One of the hospitals that had been part of the consortium still uses the images today, Lovell says.
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